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SEEDLESSNESS IN FRUITS

Definition: Seedlessness is a phenomenon wherein many species of fruit pi produce seedless fruits with or
without pollination and fertilization.
A. Parthenocarpic development:
Parthenocarpy: Parthenocarpy refers to the ability of plant to develop fruits without fertilization or
even without the stimulus from pollination.
Parthenocarpic fruits are mostly seedless. However, all seedless fruits are not parthenocarpic.
Seedlessness due to parthenocarpy is of two types;
a) Vegetative or Aitionomic parthenocarpy: In certain species, the parthenocarpic development is
vegetative i.e. without the stimulus from pollination e.g. Banana, pineapple, papaya, citranges, Washington
Naval Orange etc.
b) Stimulative or Autonomic parthenocarpy: In certain species the parthenocarpic development
is due to certain stimulus usually from pollination e.g. Black corianth variety of grape, pears, Himalayan
black berries etc.
B. Seedlessness of non-parthenocarpic fruits (or embryo abortion): The immediate cause of
seedlessness in fruits that have not been developed parthenocarpically is embryo abortion. This may be
due to external or internal factors.
a) External factors: External factors such as frost or freezing temperature during fruit set, arrest the
development of embryo, while the fruit continues to develop further till maturity e.g. pears, peaches, apples.
These seedless fruits remain small and are of quite distinct shape. In certain fruits, insects give stimulus for
the development of ovary and seedless fruits.
b) Internal factors: In some varieties the embryo abortion takes place due to internal factors and is more or
less a varietal character.
In Thompson seedless grapes, after pollination and fertilization, embryo aborts during development.
In this variety, the auxin content is sufficient to develop the fruits after abortion of embryo. Auxins,
therefore, are a limiting factor in the development of such fruits. It has been seen that such seedless fruits
increase in size when girdled or supplied with artificial auxins. Since there has been pollination and
fertilization followed by embryo abortion the fruit set in this type is due to Stenospermacarpy e.g.
Thompson seedless variety of grapes.

Effects of seedlessness: Advantages:


1) Seedlessness is a good character in table fruits.
2) Seedless fruits are preferred for canning and food preservation.
3) Seedlessness is a good character for preparation of dried and dehydrated products.

Disadvantages:
1) Seedless fruits are required to be propagated exclusively by vegetative propagation methods.
2) Not all seedless fruits are of better quality e.g. stoneless ber, seedless guava. In such cases seeded
varieties of better quality are preferred.
3) Seedlessness, many-a-times affects the shape and size of the fruit. Seedless fruits many-a-times remain
smaller in size than seeded fruits and attain varying or uneven shapes than normal seeded fruits.
4) Seedless fruits reach maturity slowly than the seed bearing ones.

Fruit bud differentiation and fruit setting


Every crop has two phases in its life cycle viz.,
1) Vegetative phase
2) Reproductive phase
After germination, plants make vegetative growth leading to the development of only vegetative
structures like roots, stems and leaves. This is called as the vegetative phase. As plants become older, the
initial growth rate diminishes and afterwards it bears flower buds, flowers and fruits. This is called as the
reproductive phase.
The change of vegetative buds to flower buds is called as flower bud initiation. The length of time
required for changing from vegetative phase to reproductive phase varies from species to species or even
from variety to variety and also with cultural practices and the environmental conditions under which the
plant is growing, e.g.
1) In plants like banana, pineapple, grapes etc., the vegetative phase continues only for few months.
2) Vine crops and bush crops change from vegetative phase to reproductive phase earlier than most of the
fruit trees.
3) The century plant (Agave americana) continues to remain in vegetative phase for decades or even a
century and followed by a reproductive phase of few weeks, produces seed and dies.
Development of the fruitful condition and flower bud formation: Plants during their growing period
undergo marked seasonal changes in their composition which includes the nutrient element contents,
nitrogen, carbohydrates and food reserves. Both the total and the relative amounts of nitrogen and
carbohydrates are important for fruit bud differentiation. The rate at which the carbohydrates are
accumulated and utilized, govern the vegetative and reproductive phase in the life cycle of the plant. When
the rate of accumulation of carbohydrates is lower than its utilization the plants remain in the vegetative
phase producing vigorous vegetative growth and less fruitful growth.
When the rate of accumulation of carbohydrates is higher than its utilization, plants remain more in
the reproductive phase, producing stunted growth and poor fruitfulness. All the buds on the plant are
considered to be potential flower buds or capable of becoming flower buds provided the internal status i.e.
C : N ratio is favourable. Thus, when there optimum C:N ratio, the bud changes into fruitful bud or bud
initiation takes place.
Factors affecting fruit bud formation:
1) Carbohydrate : Nitrogen ratio (C : N ratio): The ratio of carbohydrates and nitrogen in the plant body
plays an important role for the bud to be fruitful. For flower bud initiation a certain ratio of C : N is required.
The different relations of carbohydrates and nitrogen contents and their effect on the extent of growth and
fruitfulness are as follows:
a) C:N ratio in equal proportion: When the carbohydrates and nitrogen are in almost equal proportions i.e.
when there is moderate rate of accumulation and utilization of carbohydrates, plant produces good growth
with normal fruits.
b) C greater than N: When the accumulation of carbohydrates is higher than its utilization i.e. more
carbohydrates and less nitrogen results in small growth with early but less fruiting.
c) C less than N: When the rate of utilization of carbohydrates is more than its accumulation i.e. there is
more nitrogen and less carbohydrates. Plant is observed with less growth and is late in fruiting.
d) When both C and N are low, plant remains stunted with absolutely no flowering.
It is, however, incorrect to say that vegetative and reproductive functions are entirely antagonistic to each
other e.g. coconut, banana, fig etc, produce crop parallel to the vegetative growth. More the vegetative
growth, more will the yield.
2) Climatic factors: Climatic factors such as temperature and light (duration and intensity) affect the
internal status of the plant by affecting growth and carbohydrate accumulation.
The climatic conditions should be moderate. By adjusting the planting dates, pruning dates,
irrigations etc., the fruit bud formation can be increased. Extreme drought and excessive irrigation will lead
to very stunted and very vigorous growth which will give poor fruit bud formation.
Heat is also important for vegetative development. Diminished heat even with high nitrogen supply
leads to carbohydrate accumulation by checking the growth of the plant.
3) Nutrition: For better fruit bud formation it is necessary to fertilize the plants well before the fruit bud
initiation, so as to have the proper internal C : N balance. If nitrogen is given late, the plant will tend to be
vegetative and will give reduced flowering and fruiting.
4) Moisture: Nitrogen supply is not the only factor which determines the C : N ratio and thereby the
fruit-bud formation. It is also affected by decrease in the factors responsible for growth and development
viz., water. Withholding of moisture from the plants growing in abundant supply of nitrogen will result in
fruitfulness. If water stress exceeds beyond a critical limit it will result in unfruitfulness and stunted
growth, reducing flowering.
5) Light: Light affects differentiation of floral primordia through intensity, duration, as well as quality.
Higher light intensity leads to greater flowering than low intensity. Parts of the tree receiving less
light have fewer flowers or no flowers at all. Shading preceding the pre-flowering period also reduces
flowering considerably due to a disturbed C : N ratio.
Low light intensity prevents the development of functional anthers in strawberry where shading
reduces flower formation and also the development of proper sex
Tendency to remain vegetative is accelerated by cloudy weather in most of fruit trees. Shortened day length
increases flower differentiation in the short d plants.
6) Temperature: Temperature changes tend to upset the C : N balance in the plant which may influence the
flower bud formation. Temperatures lower than 20-25°C favour greater accumulation of carbohydrates in
certain plant species and thus force flower bud formation.
Certain other conditions also modify or shift the balance of carbohydrates an. nitrogen in the plant.
In growing vanilla, it is found that if the vine is permitted t grow vertically upwards, it produces very little
crop because the vertical growth is vegetative and utilizes more carbohydrates. However, vertically growing
shoots when made horizontal, results in accumulation of carbohydrates in the horizontal branches leading
to fruit-bud formation. Similar observations are made in grape.
7) Cultural operations:
a) Ringing: Ringing is of minor importance to the commercial growers since it is seldom practiced with
mature trees to stimulate flower bud formation artificially.
b) Root pruning: Severe injury to the roots of fruit trees frequently increases flower formation.
c) Defloration: Defloration gives good results in the following year by the way of better flower formation.
Rigorous defloration of individual branches usually induces the differentiation of flowers with little impact
on the fruiting limbs of the plant.
d) Defoliation: The leaf subtending a bud bears a direct relationship to the latter. The removal of leaves
checks fruit-bud differentiation reducing the formation o flowers.
e) Spraying:

Flower bud initiation


Definition: The transformation of vegetative buds to flower buds is called as flower bud initiation.
Fruit bud differentiation
Definition: The conversion of vegetative phase to reproductive phase is known as fruit bud
differentiation.
A knowledge of the kind of buds, their location and time cf fruit bud differentiation is of considerable
importance for;
1) Understanding profitable pruning
2) Adoption or manipulation of suitable cultural practices for profitable flower bud initiation.
After initiation of fruit buds, the process of reproductive phase continues and different floral parts or flower
primordia are formed inside the bud.
Time of fruit bud differentiation:
a) Fruit bud differentiation in banana takes place within five months after planting of suckers. The plants
should, therefore, be provided with nutrition within a period of five months after planting to obtain
economic yield.
b) Fruit bud differentiation in mango in Maharashtra takes place in month of August to October. In Konkan
region it differentiates earlier than in the upghat region.
c) In case of citrus, the differentiation takes place at or shortly after the beginning of new growth.

Bursting of flower buds and formation of flowers: Differentiated flower buds, under favourable
conditions of soil moisture and temperature, burst and give developed flowers. Depending upon the crop,
the flowers may be male, -female or perfect/hermaphrodite. Dioecious plants produce male and female
flowers on different plants e.g. papaya, kokam, nutmeg, while monoecious plants produce both male and
female flowers on the same plant e.g. Jackfruit, Mango.
Pollination, fertilization and fruit set: After the opening of flowers, the pollen grains are transferred from
stamen to stigma. If the transfer from stamen to stigma is from jthe same flower or from another flower of
the same plant or in case of clonal varieties from the stigma of flower of any plant from the same variety, the
process is called self-pollination. If the transfer takes place from the flower of one plant to the flower of
another plant or in case of pomological varieties to the flower of another variety, the process is called
cross-pollination. Almost all horticultural crops are cross pollinated in nature. For the maintenance of
individuality, most of the horticultural plants are propagated vegetatively. After pollination, in a few days
fertilization (i.e. union of male and female gametes) takes place and every embryo starts growing and fruits
set.